Daniel Quinn Debate 2: Salvationist Religions

ME, just as you don’t see any good in obscuring the lineage between other animals and human, I don’t see any good in saying we are animals and nothing more than that.

Hey, capacitor!

You’re an animal! That’s a biological fact! But that doesn’t mean you’re “just an animal”! You’re a special kind of animal known as a human being!

OK? Well, maybe not. OK, clarification. To me, “animal”=“material living thing that moves.” My point is that we are of this physical world as are the ox & the elephant, not angels exiled here by a Gnostic devil. But I can see how some people would get it wrong…

Yeesh. I certainly didn’t mean that man is, in intellect or moral responsibility, merely a beast. When I say, “Man is an animal,” I don’t mean what you mean by, “Man is just an animal.” Sorry for the confusion.

When you’re right, you’re right. Man has sufficient intellect and conscience to owe the world responsibility for is actions.

OK, MEB (and Foolsguinea), I see where you’re coming from. I had belived that you were contending that humans are just animals, while in fact you were merely stating that we are also animals. Fair enough; humans are a great many things. But saying that we are just animals is like saying that a diamond is just a lump of coal.

[sub] And for the record, yes - if we want to, the word “animal” can mean “every animal except human”. We made up the word and it can mean whatever we want it to mean.[/sub]

One of the point Quinn makes in Ishamel is that by changing the way we view our place in the world (from “the world belongs to us” to “we belong to the world”) we don’t have to accept that human don’t have a special role.

Indeed, humans do have a special role. Not to conquer or rule. But to be first. We are the first species on this planet to have developped language, reason, and all those things we think differentiates us from other animals. And, if we don’t destroy life of this planet, other animals - when they evolve further, may look at us and think, ‘they had the power to destroy it all, but they didn’t. They gave the rest of life on this planet a chance to evolve.’

That’s not a bad legacy.

Back to the OP.

No, I don’t believe that “salvationist religions” are a sign of distress. They are a sign of the memetic evolution of religion.

For instance, suppose we had a country that had two religions. Religion A believed in live and let live, everyone has their own path, all paths are true, etc. Religion B teaches that anyone who doesn’t believe is going to be punished, that one should work hard to convert people to religion B, and that anyone who converts to religion B and tries to leave should be punished.

Which religion is going to spread and which religion is going to shrink? It doesn’t matter which religion is closer to the truth, or which is more pleasant for the adherants. Religion B is going to spread at the expense of religion A. This is why Christianity and Islam could spread like wildfire against pagan and animist religions.

And anyone who thinks that the pagans viewed life as sacred, please examine the religion and practices of the ancient romans.

Lemur, the religion of the ancient Romans was not, by any stretch of the imagination, animism. I doubt that the average Roman on the street knew that animism existed.

Re the “sign of distress” aspect, I think what Quinn is saying is this-- the concept that humans are inherently flawed; born in a state of sin; “born bad,” is a sign that something is wrong with the way of life of the people who buy into this concept. They would not belive this if there was not something wrong with their way of life. It’s not the people who are flawed; it’s the culture that teaches them that they are flawed.

Perhpas it behooves us to examine the underlying concepts of our culture with a view to understanding WHY we are so sure that our species is inherently flawed? Perhaps we should ask ourselves if we might not prefer to develop cultures/religions/ways of life that do not assume that we are bad, wrong, hopelessly messed up.

There is a being that is an animal that is a vessel for a Being that is not. The former needs only animal things to survive; the latter needs spiritual things. The former needs food; the latter needs the Bread of Life. The former needs water; the latter needs the Living Water. The former needs survival instinct; the latter needs Perfect Grace.

“Flesh counts for nothing… God is Spirit.” — Jesus

I didn’t say the Romans were animist, I said they were pagans, which they were. We’re just so used to thinking about paganism in opposition to christianity that we don’ think of the ancient religions as pagan in form.

Proselytizing religions obviously will spread at the expense of non-proselytizing religions, regardless of the truth or falsity of their other beliefs.

And that’s why christianity swept through the Roman empire and pagan Europe after the Romans, and why christianity largely supplanted the religions of the Americas.

And anyway, I don’t think that most christian churches today stress the original sin doctrine. Sure, it exists, but not many preachers could keep their congregations if they trot out “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” every week. Anyway, the only reason to stress original sin is to pull out salvation through Christ at the last minute. It’s like the salesman who points out all the germs and filth in your house…but for only $9.99 he can sell you new improved antibacterial Mr. Sparkle™! Original sin is just a marketing ploy.

Lemur, I’m not talking about “hellfire and damnation” revival meeting style preaching. I’m talking about a basic concept. Christianity (and, according to Quinn, all of the other major, world class religions) is based on the belief that all people are inherently flawed and in need of saving. This assumption has become part of our culture (part of just about everyone’s culture, with the tiny exception of the few remaining tribes of hunter/gatherers). Even people with little or nothing in the way of religious belief buy into the whole concept that there is something very wrong with all of us.

Libertarian sounds as though he believes it. If he thinks we humans need a god to fill us with something spiritual, doesn’t this imply that without that additional thing from god (wihtout being saved), we’re incomplete and imperfect?

Well, how about Hinduism and/or Buddhism? Are these “salvationist” religions? I’m not sure what your beef is. Are you saying that animist religions have no concept of sin? I’d disagree with that. There’s nothing special about animism.

I’m an atheist, and I’d say most people are big fat jerks. Does that mean that I believe in original sin?